Use social media in public interest

Discussants at a roundtable, “Role of Social Media in Advancing Peoples’ Right to Know”, jointly organised by The Daily Star and London East Bank College Chittagong in the daily’s Chittagong office yesterday.

Social media should be used with the purpose to uphold public interests, said Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof Mizanur Rahman in a roundtable yesterday.

He defined public interests as the interest of the poor and said social media could play a vital role to guarantee human rights.

Prof Mizanur Rahman was speaking as the chief guest at the roundtable titled “Role of Social Media in Advancing People’s Right to Know” organised by The Daily Star in association with London East Bank College, Chittagong at The Daily Star Conference Centre in its Chittagong Bureau office.

Prashanta Bhushon Barua, director of London East Bank College, UK & Bangladesh, presented the keynote paper titled “The Role of New Media in Advancing People’s Right to Know: A Blend of Freedom and Fear”.

Taking part in the discussion, Prof Mizanur said social media would fail to play its proper role if users fail to feel the pains and sufferings of the have-nots.

“I won’t say these media as social media until and unless the rural people are associated with these,” he said, adding, “Social media are the expression of civilisation and we will have to advance holding those hands, not avoiding.

“But we must associate the rural people social media,” he added.

On censorship and abuse of social media, he said people must be educated for their responsible behaviour in the social media. He emphasised investment in education in true sense saying, “Unless and until you invest in education, how can you expect matured and responsible behaviour from the people?”

The state which has a pro-people character can act as an editor of the social media, he said, adding, “It is the duty of all of us to make the state pro-people; otherwise we will have to take the responsibility for the abuse of social media.”

Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, managing editor of The Daily Star, said social media is a part of globalisation and everyone must board the train of globalisation to keep pace with the world.

He also put emphasis on the users of social media to work for the interest of the mass people. “Are the 1.7 million users of social media in Bangladesh working for the interest of mass people?” he asked, saying, “Benefits of all our efforts go to 50 percent people of upper level, but the benefits should reach the door of the rest 50 percent people.”

Abul Momen, resident editor of The Prothom Alo, Chittagong, who was the moderator of the roundtable, said as social media is informal media, it would be very tough to formalise it like the print and electronic media.

Terming the country’s society volatile and unstable, Momen said a matured society is essential to build responsible citizens and emphasised proper education to make people matured.

Prof Syed Ahsanul Alam, chairman of marketing department at Chittagong University, mentioned the social media as a sharp knife saying necessary law should be enacted to control its abuse.

“But in enacting the law the government must keep in mind that it would not hamper the legitimate freedom of the users,” he opined.

Atiqur Rahman, associate professor of Chittagong University, said active supervision from the government is essential for responsible social media.

He emphasised a peaceful coexistence of the government and the social media.

Bureau chief of The Daily Star, Chittagong Raisul Huq Bahar, CU assistant professor Adnan Mannan, Amran Haroon, a teacher of Independent University Bangladesh (IUB), among others, spoke at the roundtable.

Source: The Daily Star

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